Childhood Cognitive Problems Could Lead To Mental Health Issues In Later Life

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  1. The Good Doctor

    The Good Doctor Golden Member

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    Children experiencing cognitive problems such as low attention, poor memory or lack of inhibition may later suffer mental health issues as teenagers and young adults, a new study reveals. Targeting specific markers in childhood for early treatment may help to minimise the risk of children developing certain psychopathological problems in adolescence and adult life, such as borderline personality disorder, depression and psychosis.

    Cognitive deficits are core features of mental disorders and important in predicting long-term prognosis—the researchers' work indicates that individual patterns of such deficits predate specific mental disorders.

    Analysing data from an initial UK cohort of 13,988 individuals born between April 1991 and December 1992, researchers discovered a number of key and specific links between childhood cognitive problems and mental health issues in later life, namely:

    Researchers found that working memory deficits in childhood were linked to hypomania in young adults, but when they checked for co-existing psychopathological conditions this association disappeared—indicating that further investigation is needed.

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    Mental disorders cause a significant disease burden globally and at least 10% of children andadolescents worldwide have a mental disorder. 75% of mental disorders diagnosed in adults have their onset in childhood and adolescence.

    Bipolar disorder, depression and psychosis commonly emerge during adolescence and continue in young adulthood—potentially related to anomalies in the way adolescents mature caused by psychosocial, biological or environmental factors.

    "It's crucial to study the onset of mental disorders at these early stages and evaluate which risk factors predate these conditions and in what way. These factors are core features of mental disorders such as psychosis and mood disorders," commented co-author Professor Matthew Broome.

    "Deficits in cognitive function, ranging from decreased attention and working memory to disrupted social cognition and language, are common in psychiatric disorders. They severely compromise quality of life and could potentially predate serious mental health conditions by several years," commented the senior author of the study Professor Steven Marwaha.

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